Ordered to Western Louisiana - Berwick City - Teche Country - Franklin - Orange Groves - Election for Governor of Ohio - Guarding Steamers on the Teche - Surprise of the First Brigade - New Iberia - Foraging - Protection Papers.
Our pleasant times were fast drawing to a close. Oct. 1st, we received two months' pay and were ordered on a campaign in Western Louisiana. On the 3d we embarked on the steamer "North America" and landed at Algiers, opposite New Orleans, where we took a night-train for Brashear City, a distance of eighty miles, at which place we arrived the following morning. We crossed the bay on a ferry boat and camped at Berwick City. On the 7th, the brigade advanced up through the Teche country, passing through Franklin, and camped near New Iberia, on the 8th, when our Regiment, with the 19th Ky., 77th Ills. and Chicago Mercantile Battery, were ordered back to Franklin, to garrison the place. We arrived there the 11th, and camped in the suburbs, Col. Landrum, with his staff, being camped near by, on the banks of the Teche. Co. A, in command of Capt. Cyrus Hussey, were detailed as provost-guards and were quartered in the town.
We were now stationed in the garden-spot of Louisiana, and Franklin was one of its prettiest towns. Of this region, Longfellow, in his poem, "Evangeline," says:
"On the banks of the Teche are the towns of St. Maner and St. Martin.
There the long-wandering bride shall be given to the bride groom,
There the long-absent pastor regain his flock and his sheep-fold.
Beautiful is the land, with its praries and forests of fruit trees.
Under the feet a garden of flowers, and the bluest of heavens
Bending above, and resting its dome on the walls of the forest.
They who dwell here have named it the Eden of Louisiana.
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All the year round the orange-groves are in blossom; and grass grows
More in a single night than in a whole Canadian summer."
It was early fall, and the weather delightful. No one who ever saw such an autumn could ever forget it. The dreamy atmosphere, drooping in the mellow haze of the mild Indian summer, almost made this lovely region a fairy land. The white cabins of the slaves were in long rows, like villages. Near by stood the elegant mansions of the wealthy planters, with broad verandas encircling the entire building. The orange groves, with their tropical fruit, were in the height of their perfection, of which a prominent writer gives the following description: "It is a beautiful sight to wander through these natural groves, watching the beautiful globes of gold peeping on all sides from the bright green foliage, bending low the branches with their weight, and exhaling a fragrance at once delicious and powerful. The fruit clings with a great deal of tenacity for a long time after it has ripened; but during the winter and early spring it mostly falls, though the new blossoms, with their charming fragrance and pure whiteness, and young oranges, may be seen while the fruit still remains."
But the marching and counter-marching of the contending armies were leaving their marks behind. The old plantations, with their stately mansions, were going to decay; fences, gates and ornaments of all kinds were fast disappearing; but such is war.
Oct. 13th, the election for Governor of Ohio took place in the Regiment. Gov. Brough received 241 votes, and Vallandigham 28. Those that were absent on picket and fatigue duty did not get to vote.
While stationed at Franklin very strict discipline was enforced, and no foraging whatever was allowed, but nevertheless some members of the Regiment would venture beyond the picket-lines and gather up what poultry and other provisions they could find, and bring them into camp before daylight.
Our principal duty while stationed here, was to furnish guards for the steamboats that took the supplies up Bayou Teche to the army, encamped at New Iberia. The duty was of a very pleasant nature, more especially as the enemy did not molest us.
Oct. 23d, Lieut. Col. Lindsey arrived and took command of the Regiment. The first brigade of our Division, while encamped in advance of the main army at New Iberia, was surprised Nov. 3d by the enemy, just as the paymaster was paying the troops. Nearly half of the brigade was captured. The paymaster, with his funds, barely escaped by timely flight in an ambulance, driven by Jonathan Pratt, of the Pioneer Corps.
On account of this surprise, the false alarms were numerous, which compelled us to be in line of battle at 4 o'clock every morning.
Nov. 11th, we were ordered to New Iberia, where we arrived the following day, and camped inside of the fortifications. Although the movements of the army were very mysterious, and no one could tell where he would be the next day, yet as soon as the arms were stacked, the Regiment went to work building quarters, as if they were going to remain there permanently. Cabins were erected out of old boards gathered up, fire-places built, bunks and bedsteads constructed, streets were laid out in regular order, which was repeated at every camp, excepting when on the march. When the cabins were completed, the next thing in order was to explore every wood, field and ravine, and in a single day the soldiers familiarized themselves with the surrounding country.
Nov. 25th, Capt. Bering, in command of 50 men of the Regiment, took charge of 240 teams, and proceeded 8 miles southwest of New Iberia, to procure forage for the army. The prairie was dotted with rich plantations, and corn and fodder was found in abundance. After the pickets were posted, to guard against a surprise, the teams were loaded; after which they returned to camp, arriving there late that evening. The planters tried in every possible way to get exempted from furnishing supplies to our army. They would exhibit what they termed "Protection Papers," claiming to be foreigners. Among the killed at the battle of Grand Coteau, a short time previous, a number were found with these papers in their pockets, which gave rise to the song, founded on that battle, commencing:
"Twas on the morn of November third,
The rebels thought they'd cage the bird,
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With 'Protection Papers' in their pocket
They pounced upon us like a rocket."
And the general verdict was then, that "Protection Papers" had "played out," for they were generally obtained for the purpose of taking advantage of our army.
Dec. 6th, Lieut. Col. Lindsey and ten sergeants started for Ohio, to
obtain recruits, which left the Regiment again in command of Capt. Bering.